Do you love corn on the cob? Fact: most of the corn grown in the U.S. never reaches the table as corn on the cob. Farmers grow thousands of acres of feed or field corn, which is tough and dry, and is used to feed livestock.
Some types of corn are turned into ethanol, a type of fuel; other varieties of corn are made into cornmeal or corn syrup, a sweetener found in many foods, such as cereals, baked goods, candies, and even ketchup.
- Corn is native to the Americas. Native Americans grew it for thousands of years.
- The Pilgrims were likely saved from starvation by corn. Squanto, a Pawtuxet Indian, taught them how to grow corn.
- Native Americans grew corn with beans and squash. They called this pattern, “The Three Sisters.” The squash shades the ground and prevents weed growth; the corn stalks give the beans something to climb on; and the beans add nitrogen to the soil, a necessary nutrient for corn growth.
- Corn needs a large space to grow, plenty of water and sun, and rich soil. New varieties of corn are super sweet. Some are white or white and yellow.
- Scientists think people living in Mexico first cultivated corn between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago. Modern corn is very different than the original plant, which was a wild grass called teosinte.
- Spanish explorers brought corn, or maize, back to Europe. At first, people didn’t like it. They preferred wheat bread to cornbread.
- Native: to originate from
- Cultivate: to intentionally grow a plant
- Maize: another word for corn
Questions and Answers
Question: What other foods are made from corn?
Answer: Corn is a staple food in many cultures. In Mexico and other Latin countries, people eat corn tortillas almost every day in foods, such as tamales, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, and tostadas. Dried corn, posole, is used in soups and stews.
In Italy, cornmeal is made into a type of porridge called polenta, which can be sweet or savory. Canjica, a Brazilian dessert, is made by boiling sweetened condensed milk with corn. Cornstarch, corn oil, and even bourbon all come from corn.
Think working on a farm would be fun? Watch this video to find out what it’s like.
Visit Martha Stewart to find new corn recipes.